Sunday, July 14, 2013

Suddenly Death

It is pretty curious. Over the past few weeks, the topic of death has suddenly kept reappearing in different forms.
It started out with my aunt sending a magazine article she had scanned on burial and cremation. I never knew there was such a thing as water cremation (only offered in the US, I think). It was morbid to learn of the Tri-State Crematory incident which happened in Noble, Georgia in 2002 where an unscrupulous businessman failed to cremate over 300 corpses sent to the crematory and dumped the bodies in the premises to rot. The strange things people do.

And then there was another forwarded email from my insurance agent about appreciating life (for the elderly) as death was near. I don't know why she sent that to me, maybe I'm just in her email group.

Last weekend I attended the BMEW at a hotel in Sepang. It was just about basic stuffs and to ensure that we were making the decision (baptism) with open eyes. Somehow during the session, the topic of death came up. Pastor said that when we die, our spirit goes to sleep. Somehow, this was the first time that I had heard this (or maybe I had heard it before, but never had such a message impressed upon my mind as that day). Truthfully, learning this had created a certain level of assurance in my heart and I believe had rid me of the inexplicable fear of dead things. He explained that we shouldn't be afraid or believe in ghosts of dead people, as their spirit was asleep and what encounters we hear of "ghosts" relaying information to the living that only the dead would know were actually demons tricking us with falsehood. The spirit would continue to sleep until the second coming of our Lord (and that could be anytime, in a minute or a thousand years, according to God's timing and not ours). Disclaimer: All this I have yet to do my own research on.

Later that day, I had news that a close friend's dad had passed away. The last I had contacted my friend was a few days prior and I was really doubtful that we should meet when her family was going through a critical time. We did not meet up that night. And I did not expect that what she had replied me earlier would happen so fast. Our lives are according to God's timing.

Attending the wake on Monday night, again I heard the same phrase uttered by the pastor conducting the wake, "in death, the spirit goes to sleep". I can't say whether it was coincidence or an affirmation of what God was telling me. But that night, I payed my respect to Uncle and glanced into the casket without fear (unlike before, I would discreetly avert this process). My friend's eulogy of her dad was very touching, as I recalled the parts she had shared with me in the past few years - the discovery, decisions and prayers. She is really a pillar of strength to be able to stand up and deliver such a personal speech at a time of immense grief. Although I have only met and spoken to Uncle a few times especially during the last few years, through his family and friends I could see that he had lived a very full life and was a good testimony to God's work through his life. At the end of the day, I wonder what would be said of each one of us when we passed on to the afterlife.

Another meaningful message that was delivered by the pastor was the concept of tears and separation. Tears are integral to life. There are a number of separation events in life, such as sending off your child to study overseas, giving away your daughter at her wedding and death. In each of these events, there is separation and tears come, be it happy tears or tears of sadness. Therefore tears are something very natural and we should not be ashamed of them. I felt that that was very true, although we would try to hide tears as it was commonly perceived as a weakness.

When death occurs nearby, it always spur contemplation on where we are in life and accentuates the fact that none of us can predict the future and guarantee we would be here, living, in the next minute or beyond.

No comments:

Post a Comment